Our sweetener glossary provides a general guide to the properties and applications of sugar and sweeteners.
Abrusoside is a sweetener that has been isolated from a tropical plant called Abrus precatorius. Abrusoside is between 30 and 100 times sweeter than sugar. A semi-synthetic form, a methyl ester, is about 150 times sweeter than sugar.
Ad libitum is a Latin expression meaning according to pleasure. The term is used in connection with studies on diet. Ad libitum means that the person or animal being studied may eat an unrestricted amount of food or feed.
Alitame, a synthetic high intensity sweetener, is the result of a systematic search for sweet dipeptides. Like aspartame, it includes the amino acid, aspartic acid. Alanine and an amide are also part of its structure. Alitame is not yet approved in the EU, but is approved in some countries such as Australia and is being considered for approval in the US. The sweetness of alitame is synergistic with acesulfame K, aspartame and cyclamate.
Aspartame, a synthetic sweetener, is a dipeptide (=two amino acids) consisting of the amino acids phenylalanine (as methyl ester) and aspartic acid . It is metabolized as other amino acids. The sweet taste of aspartame has a good taste profile, much like that of normal sugar. Aspartame exhibits synergistic effects with other sweeteners, especially acesulfame-K.
Aspartame is best suited for slightly sour products. The most common applications are in lemonade and other soft drinks. However, these have only limited keeping qualities due to the breakdown of the aspartame and the consequent reduction in sweetness. Aspartame also starts to break down upon heating and therefore is not suitable for baking.
People suffering from phenylketonuria (PKU) are advised to avoid aspartame due to its phenylalanine content. The maximum permissible use of aspartame in lemonade and other soft drinks is 600 mg/l, which means that it is possible to drink up to 4 litres of aspartame-sweetened soft drinks per day without exceeding the ADI.
Baking consists of mixing, rising (fermentation), and baking (cooking). The ingredients used are flour, water, sugar or syrup, fat, yeast and salt. During kneading, the flour and the water form dough, which increases in volume due to the gas produced during fermentation. The size and structure of the bread depend on the way in which it is processed.
During fermentation, the amylases in the flour break down the starch to maltose. A yeast enzyme (maltase) splits maltose into glucose, which is converted by the yeast (using other enzymes) into carbon dioxide and alcohol. However, yeast prefer to use glucose so, in order to speed up the fermentation process, sucrose or golden syrup are often added. The added sucrose is rapidly split into glucose and fructose in the dough, and is converted into carbon dioxide, alcohol and a number of aroma compounds. In some kinds of bread a rich taste is traditionally given to the bread by the addition of extra sugar or syrup. This provides a sweeter taste and better keeping qualities.
When the dough is heated in the oven, the proteins in the flour coagulate and give off water. At this stage, the structure of the bread is decided. If the dough contains sugar, the starch gelatinizes more slowly, which means that the bread can become more porous than with unsweetened dough. The starch and the sugar caramelize at the surface of the dough due to the heat. Further browning reactions (the Maillard reactions) take place between sugar and amino acids. These browning reactions give the crust of the bread its colour, and are also important for the aroma of the bread.
Bread baked with golden syrup has a rich aroma and a good texture.
Blood sugar is the glucose found in the blood, and is modulated by hormones. After a meal containing carbohydrates, the blood sugar level increases. The rate and the total increase depend on the amount of carbohydrates consumed and how rapidly they are broken down and absorbed. The determination of blood sugar levels is important in the diagnosis of diabetes and in following the effects of treatment.
The glycaemic index is the area under the bloodsugar curve following ingestion of the test product, expressed as a percentage of the corresponding area, after the ingestion of the same amount of carbohydrates in the form of white bread.
In the past it was thought that molecular size was important for the rate of carbohydrate breakdown and uptake in the intestines. It was thought that mono- and disaccharides were absorbed quickly, while starch, a polysaccharide, was absorbed more slowly. Now it is known that this is not necessarily the case. More recent research has shown that other factors determine the blood sugar and insulin levels following a meal. The particle size is an important factor. Bread containing whole cereal grains causes a slower blood sugar response than bread baked with finely milled flour. Rice and all kinds of pasta are low-GI foods, as relatively compact pieces of food are swallowed which are digested more slowly than, for example, boiled potatoes.
Due to the cell structure dried legumes are low-GI foods. These retain their cell structure even after boiling, and the cell wall must be broken down before the starch can be used. Ingestion of fructose causes a slow increase in blood sugar level as it must first be converted into glucose. The same is true for the galactose part of lactose. Both lactose and sucrose, therefore, give lower blood sugar responses that the equivalent amount of glucose.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) provides a means of determining whether a person is over- or underweight. It is calculated using the person's weight and height. The BMI is determined by dividing the body weight in kilograms by the square of the height expressed in metres (kg/m2). A BMI value between 18.5 and 25 is desirable. A value greater than 25 often indicates that the person is overweight, while a value under 18.5 indicates underweight. See obesity.
Brazzein is a protein obtained from an African plant, Pentadiplandra brazzeana Ballion, which is 2000 times sweeter than sugar.
The Brix scale, named after the German scientist, A. F. W. Brix, is used to provide a measure of the density of a liquid. Brix degrees can be measured with a hydrometer, whose scale has been calibrated using sugar solutions of known concentrations. Pure water is 0 degrees Brix, while a 10% sugar solution is 10 degrees Brix. The number of degrees Brix can also be determined by the refractive index of the solution.
Another measure of liquid density is the Baumé scale. The relationship between the Baumé and Brix scales can be found in tables. For example, 20° Brix = 11.1° Baumé.
Brown sugar is the traditional name for a large number of sugar products with different tastes, appearances, characteristics, shape and refining methods. The brown colour, as well as the taste, of these types of sugar originates from the vegetable components in the raw material. It is mainly raw sugar from sugar cane that is used for consumption. The intensity of the brown colour and the taste depend on the degree of refining. Brown sugaris also produced by coating white sugar with a layer of sugar cane molasses or dark syrup.
Demerara sugar is an example of brown sugar.
The calorie is a unit of energy used, amongst other things, to specify energy consumption and the energy content in food.
The definition of a calorie is:
The engery needed to heat 1 g of water up 1°C
Nowadays Joule is preferably used as the unit of energy. "Calorie" is often used when kilocalorie is intended.
1 kcal = 4.18 kJ
Candy sugar consists of large brown or white sucrose crystals which have either been allowed to grow slowly on threads or seed crystals in a concentrated sucrose solution. The brown colour is obtained by using caramelized sugar.
White and brown sugar candy are produced in only a few places in Europe.
A large number of substances, found mainly in the plant kingdom, make up the carbohydrates, which are composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen with two atoms of hydrogen for every oxygen. Carbohydrates form cell walls and nutritional stores, and are important components in the metabolism of organisms. Carbohydrates are divided into mono-, di-, oligo- and polysaccharides.
The monosaccharides glucose and fructose are found mostly in fruit, berries and vegetables. Galactose hardly occurs at all in its free form, but as a component of lactose. Important disaccharides are sucrose, which is found in fruit, berries and vegetables, and lactose, which is found in milk products. Oligosaccharides are present in bulbous plants and legumes. Starch belongs to the polysaccharides, and is a digestible carbohydrates. The other polysaccharides (cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and plant gums) are indigestible and are therefore included in dietary fibre.
The carbohydrates in food account for 50-60% of our energy intake. The digestible carbohydrates are mono- and disaccharides, as well as starch. These are taken up in the small intestine and provide the body's cells with glucose, while the indigestible carbohydrates provide a substrate for intestinal bacteria.
In order to be able to utilize carbohydrates, they must first be broken down into monosaccharides. The breakdown of starch begins in the mouth, with the aid of amylase in the saliva. Most starch is, however, cleaved in the upper intestinal tract by amylase originating from the pancreas. Here, starch is hydrolysed to dextrins, maltose and glucose. Enzymes on the intestinal wall cleave disaccharides to glucose, fructose and galactose. These are then taken up in the cells of the intestinal wall and transported, by the blood via the portal vein, to the liver. Dietary fibre is unaffected by the enzymes of the small intestine and passes through unchanged to the large intestine.
It was previously thought that starch was cleaved more slowly than simple carbohydrates and would thus lead to a slower increase in blood sugar level. However, many studies have shown that the food from which the carbohydrates originate, how the raw products have been processed and how the meal is composed, are of great importance. We now talk of low-GI and high-GI foods. See diabetes. This is of importance not only for diabetics, but for the performance of sportsmen and women.
Of the monosaccharides taken up in the intestines, (glucose, fructose and galactose), fructose and galactose are converted to glucose in the liver. Thus, after passage through the liver, all the carbohydrates absorbed have been converted to glucose. Some of the glucose is used to form glucogen in the liver, and the rest is transported to other organs. All the body's cells can utilize glucose as a source of energy.
Cellulose is the most important component of the cell wall in all plants, (along with hemicellulose and lignin) and is the most common organic substance in nature. Cellulose (C6H12O6)n is a polysaccharide, the molecules of which contain 3000-5000 D-glucose units, linked b-1,4 bonds, and is difficult to dissolve in most solvents (cf. starch). Cellulose can be cleaved with acid or with special enzymes, called cellulases, to cellobiose and glucose. This process is relatively slow, but with more efficient methods, cellulose could become a possible raw material for the production of sweeteners. Cellulose can not be broken down by the enzymes found in the gastro-intestinal tract of humans, and is therefore included in the group of indigestible carbohydrates, and contributes to the dietary fibre component of food.
The colour of a sugar solution is determined spectrophotometrically at 420 nm and pH 7.0. The colour of the solution is expressed in ICUMSA units, which is the absorbance index multiplied by 1,000. The absorbance index is the absorbance per unit thickness in centimetres and the concentration in grams per millilitre.
Crystallization is the process in which a chemical compound turns from a dissolved or liquid form, to a solid, crystalline form. Crystallization may be achieved by turning a concentrated solution into a saturated solution, either by lowering the temperature or by evaporation of the solution, turning a concentrated solution into a saturated solution. During crystallization, most of the contaminants remain in the solution which means that it canbe an important part of a purification process (as for the production of sugar). Crystallization can also be induced by seeding. Small crystals are added to the solution, which cause the growth of the dissolved compound on these crystals, or the formation of new ones.
Cyclamate is a synthetic sweetener manufactured by the sulfonation of cyclohexylamine. The sodium salt, sodium cyclamate, is the most practically useful. In order to counteract the bitter taste, cyclamate is often combined with saccharin at a ratio of 10:1.
Cyclamate was banned in the USA in 1969 as it was suspected that it could cause cancer. Sweden and other countries followed suit. Additional experiments (around 75 studies) showed that it was not carcinogenic and cyclamate is now permitted in many countries, although not in the US.
In Sweden it was for many years only permitted as a table top sweetener. Thereby the intake of cyclamate was limited. In the EU the use of cyclamate is banned in food categories like chewing gums and ice cream and the permitted level is reduced in soft drinks. This seeks to ensure that the intake of cyclamates stays below the revised ADI. (Rev Jan 2005)
Demerara sugar was originally the name given to a light-brown cane sugar originating from Demerara in Guyana, South America. Nowadays, Demerara sugar comes mainly from Mauritius. It may also be the name given to white sugar to which refined cane molasses has been added. This form of sugar is also called London Demerara.
Dental caries is a bacterial disease caused by the formation of acid on the teeth by bacteria. The pH in the mouth decreases, resulting in the demineralisation of the enamel and dentine of the teeth. There are four prerequisites for the formation of dental caries.
Factors that influence the formation of caries
1. A receptive tooth
2. Acid-forming bacteria
3. Digestible carbohydrates
Bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus are present in the bacterial layer, or plaque, on the teeth, but lacto-bacteria can also break down carbohydrates in food, mainly to lactic acid. Corrosive damage is thus caused on the enamel of the teeth and the dentine, whereupon the calcium salts are successively dissolved. The risk of caries may be reduced or completely removed by good oral hygiene and regular intake of fluorine, for example, in fluorinated toothpaste. The use of fluorine has been the most important factor in the radical reduction of caries during recent decades.
Carbohydrates which contribute to the formation of caries are sucrose, glucose, fructose and some kinds of starch. Food with easily fermentable starch in a porous structure, such as cooked extruded products, such as puffed rice or cheese doodles, lead to a relatively large drop in pH in the mouth. Starch in a compact structure, such as pasta, is not readily fermented by oral bacteria and presents hardly any risk of caries. The risk of caries associated with sugar alcohols is low or non-existent. Xylitol is a special case as it has a certain retarding effect on oral bacteria. There is no risk of caries associated with the consumption of high-intensity sweeteners.
Fiids rich in fibre and sugar-free chewing-gum and lozenges, are good from a caries point of view, as they stimulate chewing and thus the production of saliva.
It is the frequency with which carbohydrates are consumed and not the amount which is important in determining the risk of caries. Upon the consumption of metabolizable carbohydrates, the pH falls in the plaque. If the pH falls below a certain critical level (~5.7 for enamel and 6.2 for dentine) calcium salts are removed. If, on the other hand, carbohydrates are eaten seldom, the saliva in the mouth can repair the corrosive damage which occurs after a meal.
Dextran is a polysaccharide produced from sucrose with the aid of bacteria such as Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Streptococcus mutans. The former organism is used in the industrial production of dextran, while the latter is involved mainly in the formation of dextran in the mouth (see dental caries). Dextran consists of glucose molecules, bound mainly by a-1,6 bonds. It is used mostly in the pharmaceutical industry for the manufacture of blood substitute. Gels of cross-linked dextran are used for gel filtration. Dextran can also be formed in frost-damaged sugar beet, causing problems in sugar production.
Dextrins are a mixture of soluble compounds formed by partial breakdown of starch by heat, acid or enzymes (complete breakdown yields maltose). See maltodextrin.
Diabetes or diabetus mellitus is a metabolic disorder involving inability to metabolise glucose properly. If untreated, blood glucose levels rise after a meal to abnormal levels and some overflows into the urine. In the body, sugars are converted to glucose. In order to provide energy (glucose) to the body's cells a hormone called insulin, is required. The rate of cleavage and uptake of dietary carbohydrates is important in determining how high the blood sugar level rises after eating. High-GI foods give rise to high blood sugar levels, with a rapid return to the initial level, sometimes below the fasting level. Low-GI foods lead to a lower, longer-lasting increase in blood sugar level.
Two types of diabetes are distinguished. Type I occurs in youth (juvenile diabetes) and is due to poor secretion of insulin or when it has lost its ability to react to insulin so requires insulin injections. Type II generally arises in middle age and is non-insulin dependent (NIDD) and is due to resistance of the tissues to insulin. NIDD is sometimes controlled by giving insulin and can often be controlled by diet, usually one containing a high proportion of low-GI foods, see also glycaemic index.
Small amounts of sugar eaten with a meal do not lead to an increase in blood sugar level, which means that diabetics can replace fat or other carbohydrates by 5-10 g sugar in a meal, without risk.
Dietary fibre is the portion of carbohydrates which is not broken down by digestive enzymes and which reaches the large intestine unchanged. All polysaccharides except starch are dietary fibre. Dietary fibre includes cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, lignin and plant gums. Resistant starch is sometimes included as a form of dietary fibre. The variation between different forms of dietary fibre is considerable.
The physiological differences in dietary fibre can be related to the differences in chemical and physical composition of the fibre components. The gastrointestinal transit time is determined largely by the amount of insoluble fibre.
Gel-forming, soluble dietary fibre has a favourable effect on the blood sugar level and the insulin response following a meal, and can even reduce the blood cholesterol level. The dietary fibre levels, determined with the AOAC method, for oat bran, wheat bran, "kruska" (a purified wheat bran) and sugar beet fibre are 18%, 40%, 50% and 67%, respectively.
Dietary fibre is often used to increase the dietary fibre content and improve the keeping qualities of bread.
Fat, carbohydrates and protein are the nutritive substances in food which provide us with energy. Energy is released during the metabolism of these substances in the body. The energy content varies, depending on the type of nutritive substance, and also within a group of substances. Monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides, for example, provide different amounts of energy during metabolism in the body. The tables below give examples of the average energy content per gram of the most common nutritive substances.
Official values of energy content
Carbohydrates: 17 kJ/g or 4 kcal/g
Fat: 38 kJ/g or 9 kcal/g
Protein: 17 kJ/g or 4 kcal/g
Actual values of energy contents of some carbohydrates
Monosaccharides: 15,7 kJ or 3,75 kcal
Disaccharides: 16,5 kJ or 3,95 kcal
Starch: 17,4 kJ or 4,15 kcal
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol of erythrose, which is found in some algae and fungi, but can also be produced by the fermentation of glucose. Its relative sweetness is 0.6. Erythritol is not approved in the USA or Europe, but is permitted in Japan, and is used there in food and drink.
EU sugar classifications are quality categories used to describe sugar purchased for intervention under the EU sugar regime. In Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2103/77 four Grades, from 1 to 4, are defined. This classification is also used to some extent in the international sugar trade.
Grade 1 is roughly equivalent to extra white sugar, while Grades 2 and 3 corresponds to white sugar. Classification into white sugar, extra white sugar, etc. in the Sugars Directive, however, provide norms for consumer protection mainly in the retail trade.
Fermentation processes of various kinds have been used by man since times immemorial to produce or preserve food. In fermentation, microorganisms (yeast, other fungi and bacteria) are employed which use the naturally occurring sugars in the material or added sugar, mainly sucrose or glucose, as carbon and energy sources. In beer, wine and bread making, the sugar is metabolized by yeast, leading to the formation of ethanol and carbon dioxide. In baking, baker's yeast, Saccharomycescervisiae, produces carbon dioxide (CO2) that causes the bread to swell and makes it porous. In making beer and wine, it is the formation of ethanol, as well as extra flavour and aroma compounds, which is of importance.
Fermentation is also used to make yoghurt and other soured milk products, cheese, naturally fermented pickles and certain types of sausages. Lactic acid bacteria convert the sugar, lactose, into lactic acid which is important for the keeping qualities of the product.
Other industrial fermentation processes which are based on carbohydrates are the production of antibiotics, vitamins and amino acids.
Interest has recently increased in fermentation as a means of producing ethanol formotor fuel. In such a process, over 90% of the energy content of the sugar is conserved in the conversion to ethanol.
Fondant consists of extremely small sugar crystals (about 0.02 mm) in a saturated sugar solution. Fondant is prepared by boiling a sugar solution containing invert sugar or starch syrup.The product is used to ice cakes (frost cakes) and pastries and in the fillings of chocolates. The consistency is paste- or creamlike. Fondant can also be found as a dry powder (dry fondant).
Fondant is used as icing on cakes and pastries.
Fructose is a monosaccharide found in many plants, mainly fruit, but also vegetables. Fructose is also present in abundance in honey. Fructose is present as the polysaccharide inulin in Jerusalem artichokes, dahlias and chicory. Fructose can be extracted from these plants, but is usually produced from sucrose or by enzymatic conversion of glucose to isoglucose.
Fructose is the sweetest of the naturally occurring types of sugar. The relative sweetness varies, however, depending on how fructose is used. Temperature, concentration and pH affect the sensation of sweetness. Crystalline fructose has a relative sweetness of 1.7 (times that of sugar) while a 10% solution of fructose has a relative sweetness of 1.4 at +5°C, 1.0 at +40°C and 0.8 at +60°C.
Fructose is therefore most suitable for use in cold products. Beverages and jam are common areas of application. Fructose causes synergistic effects with normal sugar and high-intensity sweeteners.
Fructose is resorbed more slowly than glucose. Large amounts of fructose (>50 g) can lead to gastro-intestinal problems. The simultaneous ingestion of glucose and fructose increases the resorption rate of fructose and reduces the risk of diarrhoea.
Galactose is a monosaccharide which is not found freely in nature. It occurs mainly linked with glucose to form lactose.
Galactose is found as a monomer building block in raffinose, stachyose, verbascose, hemicellulose and pectin. Its sweetness relative to sugar is 0.5-0.7, but its poor solubility limits its application.
Glucose (chemically = dextrose) is a monosaccharide commonly found in most plants and as part of the disaccharides sucrose, lactose and maltose. It forms a building block of the polysaccharides starch and cellulose in plants and glycogen in animals. Glucose is manufactured industrially by acid or enzyme hydrolysis of starch. Commercially, glucose is usually sold dissolved in water as glucose syrup which also contains a number of the other products of starch hydrolysis. When pure glucose is dried, it is often called dextrose.
Glucose is the most important form of sugar in the blood, and the form of sugar that is taken up most rapidly in the body. This is the reason why sportsmen often use glucose as a source of energy when it is required quickly. Other monosaccharides are taken up in the blood, but these must first be converted to glucose. The brain also requires sugar to provide energy. The brain's daily requirement of glucose is 110-130 g. Most of the carbohydrates present in food are cleaved in the intestines to form monosaccharides, mainly glucose, and are then taken up in the blood. Some of the glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and the muscles. See carbohydrate metabolism.
Glucose is used in the food industry as it has special physical and chemical properties, such as the ability to take part in browning reactions and as a substrate for fermentation (for products such as pharamceuticals). Glucose is thus used in the baking industry, often in the form of syrup. Glucose is also the raw material for the production of sorbitol (by hydrogenation) and vitamin C (by synthesis from sorbitol).
Dextrose tablets are used to provide a rapid energy boost.
Glycerol is a syrupy liquid, previously called glycerine, with a low relative sweetness of 0.6. Glycerol is found in common fats and is used in confectionery and ice-cream. (Rev 2008)
Glycyrrhizin is a natural sweetener produced from the liquorice root, Glycyrrhiza glabra. It is produced in the form of an ammonium salt of glycyrrhizic acid and is about 50 times sweeter than sucrose. As glycyrrhizin has a liquorice aftertaste, it is more commonly used as an aroma compound with sweetening properties. Areas of application are the flavouring of confectionery and tobacco products.
Granulated sugar is crystalline sucrose, and is the most common sucrose product. Its purity is about 99.93%, the rest being mainly water. In industry, granulated sugar is found with various crystal sizes and different degrees of purity, depending on the application.
Granulated sugar is the most used sucrose product.
Hexose (C6H12O6) is a monosaccharide with six carbon atoms. Hexoses are normally found as aldoses, e.g. glucose, mannose and galactose, but may also occur as ketoses, e.g. fructose and sorbose. As with the pentoses, hexoses are optically active.
The oldest sweetener known to man is honey. Cave paintings from Cro Magnon period show that honey was collected 10,000 years BC. There is evidence from Egyptian culture that honey was used for baking, mead production, conservation and the treatment of wounds. Honey is still used today in many household remedies.
Honey is made by bees collecting nectar and sugary dew, which is then stored in the hive, where it is converted into honey. The composition of the nectar is strongly dependent on the kind of plant from which it comes. This also affects the aroma of the honey. The sugar contentin nectar is on average 40% (5-70%) and the kinds of sugar found are mainly sucrose, fructose and glucose.
In the hive, the bees convert the sucrose to glucose and fructose with the aid of invertase, an enzyme originating from the bees' hypopharyngeal glands. The bees also concentrate the honey to between 78 and 84%. The rest is water and mineral compounds.
Swedish honey has approximately equal parts of glucose and fructose (about 35% each) and the glucose thus crystallizes out making the honey appear cloudy rather than clear. The sucrose content is roughly 3%. Nectar from certain flowers, e.g. the acacia, Robiniapseudoacacia, and the tupelo (also known as the Black or Sour Gum), Nyssa sylvatica,contains high amounts of fructose, over 40%, and remains liquid for a long time. Honey from different origins differs considerably in colour. Rape honey, for example, is very pale in colour, while honey from heather can be very dark.
The consumption of honey in Sweden in 1995 was 0.8 kg per person.
Hypoglycaemia is a deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream.
Icing sugar is a finely powdered sugar (sucrose) made by milling and sieving granulated sugar. Icing sugar often contains a substance to prevent clumping, such as starch or maltodextrin. If maltodextrin has been added to improve the flow of the product, this may lead to precipitation when the product is added to alcoholic beverages. Icing sugar is also called confectioner's sugar.
Inversion is the process by which sucrose is cleaved to form invert sugar, i.e. a mixture of equal parts of glucose and fructose. Inversion is catalysed by acids or enzymes.
In acidic products, especially those with pH under 4 (jam, fruit purée and many soft drinks) more than half of the sucrose added is inverted to glucose and fructose when the products are consumed.
C12H22O11 + H2O -> C6H12O6 + C6H12O6
sucrose + water + glucose + fructose
Invert sugar is a mixture of equal amounts of glucose and fructose. Invert sugar is formed by the inversion (hydrolysis) of sucrose. Invert sugar is very hygroscopic due to its fructose content. It has a better preservative effect than sucrose because it exerts greater osmotic pressure (see osmosis) for the same degree of sweetness. When mixed together with sucrose, invert sugar prevents the sucrose from crystallizing, as can happen in syrup. Invert sugar is manufactured industrially as a 65-73% aqueous solution.
Isoglucose is a viscous solution in which the starch is almost completely hydrolysed and 40-90% of the glucose has been enzymatically converted to fructose (isomerized). The relative sweetness of a product containing about 50% fructose is 1.0. This product can be compared to invert sugar.
Isoglucose has found a substantial market in the US and is used in to the same extent as normal sugar, as maize starch is both plentiful and extremely inexpensive. There are many product names for isoglucose: e.g. isomerose, HFS and HFCS, i.e. High Fructose Corn Syrup. Isoglucose is used instead of a sugar solution or glucose syrup in the beverage and tinned goods industry as well as in bakeries, but it can also be used for the production of pure fructose.
Isomalt is produced by the enzymatic rearrangement of sucrose followed by hydrogentation. It consists of a mixture of approximately equal parts of glucose-sorbitol and glucose-mannitol. It is synergistic with aspartame and acesulfame-K and is used in sugar-free confectionery.
Isomerase is an enzyme that is used to convert glucose to fructose.
Jam sugar is a mixture of granulated sugar, a thickening agent and a fruit acid. A common combination is sugar, pectin and citric acid. Jam sugar is also called gelling sugar.
The term "Jam sugar" is also synonymous with preserving sugar.
The joule is the SI unit of energy; symbol J. It is used to specify energy consumption and the energy content in food. In nutritional contexts the units kilojoule (kJ) and megajoule (MJ) are used. The energy requirement for an adult is 8-14 MJ/day, and varies depending on sex, age, constitution and degree of physical activity.
4,184 J = 1 calorie
1000 J = 1 kJ = 0,239 kcal
1000 kJ = 1 MJ
Lactose is a disaccharide that consists of galactose and glucose. Lactose is found almost exclusively in the milk of mammals and is also called milk sugar. Cow's milk contains 2.9-5.3% lactose, while human breast milk contains 4.0-8.3%.
Lactose can be extracted from whey which is a by-product of cheese-making. It is the raw material in the production of lactitol and lactulose. In the pharmaceutical industry, lactose is used as a bulking agent.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to tolerate lactose, and is due to a deficiency of the enzyme lactase. Lactase deficiency means that only a limited amount of lactose can be cleaved to galactose and glucose. This, in turn, means that uncleaved lactose is transported to the large intestine where it is fermented by intestinal bacteria, leading to the formation of gas.
Only 2-5% of Scandinavian adults have this problem, while many other national groups develop a lactase deficiency in adulthood, which leads to a reduced tolerance of milk.
Cultured milk products, such as sour milk and yoghurt are, however, tolerated better than ordinary fresh milk because most of the lactose has been converted into lactic acid by the selected bacteria present in the cultured product. In addition, lactase produced by the bacteria can help cleave lactose in the intestines.
Levulose is another name for fructose. The name comes from the fact that fructose rotates polarised light to the left in a polarimeter (from the Latin laevus, meaning left). (Revised in 2008)
"Light" products are those in which the energy content has been reduced by at least 30% when compared with the original full calorie version.
The most common liquid sugar (sugar solution) consists of 65% sugar dissolved in water.
Liquid sugar may contain specified amounts of invert sugar and may then have higher total sugar content. It is, however, perishable and has a limited keeping time. Liquid sugar has many advantages over sugar in industrial applications.
It serves as a semi-manufactured product, as it can be added directly to the food process without being dissolved, filtered and pasteurized. Liquid sugar allows more rational handling, which saves time and investment costs.
A Maillard reaction is a reaction between a reduced sugar, e.g. glucose, and an amino compound, usually an amino acid, resulting in brown high-molecular-weight reaction products. These are desirable flavour and aroma compounds in baking and frying, but may lower the nutritional quality of food somewhat as essential amino acids, mainly lysine, may be destroyed.
Apart from caramelization reactions, the Maillard reactions are the most important browning reactions in food.
Malt extract is a pale brown to dark brown syrup-like product which is used in bread-making and in the brewing of beer. Malt extract is obtained by 'mashing' (mixing) crushed malt (barley that has been allowed to germinate, then dried) with warm water to form the 'wort' (the aqueous extract), which is then concentrated to produce malt extract. The most abundant kinds of sugar found in malt extract are maltose (two glucose molecules linked together) and glucose.
Maltitol is a sugar alcohol (E965) which does not occur in nature. It is produced industrially by the hydrogenation of maltose and has a relative sweetness of 0.8 compared to sugar (=1). Maltitol is used in sugar-free confectionery.
Maltodextrin is the common name for oligo- and polysaccharides of glucose, formed during the partial breakdown of starch. Dextrins or maltodextrins are made by heating starch (gelatinization) followed by enzymatic hydrolysis. The degree of breakdown lies between those of starch and starch syrup with a DE between 2 and 20.
Maltodextrin is easily dissolved and does not taste sweet. It is used as a stabilizer and as a bulking agent in many foodstuffs, e.g. icing (confectioner's) sugar and vanilla sugar. Maltodextrin is not completely soluble in alcohol, which means that ordinary sugar or syrup is better suited for the manufacture of liqueurs than icing sugar with added maltodextrin.
Mannitol is a sugar alcohol (E421) and is the main component in manna which is obtained from the manna-ash tree. It is also found in large amounts in algae, mould, celery and olives. It is manufactured by the hydrogenation of fructose, which leads to a product consisting of 50% sorbitol and 50% mannitol. Mannitol is only partially taken up in the body.
Mannitol is used mainly in pharmaceuticals, and in smaller amounts in confectionery. It is used together with sorbitol and/or xylitol in the manufacture of sugar-free chewing-gum to prevent crystallization. Its relative sweetness is 0.6-0.7 compared to sugar (=1).
Maple syrup is a sugary solution made by concentrating the sap from the sugar maple, Acer saccharum. This maple grows in the north-east US and in south-east Canada.
The sugar is found mainly in the form of sucrose (58-66%), but small quantities offructose and glucose are also present. The water content is high (about 35%). The qualityis higher at the beginning of the season when the maple syrup is also paler in colour.
Maple syrup is used at breakfast on pancakes in the US.
Marmalade is a preserve of citrus fruit in which fruit and sugar are boiled together. It is most commonly made from the peel and juice of bitter Seville oranges although grapefruit, lemon, lime and mixed fruit marmalades are available. The bitterness of the peel offsets the sweetness of the sugar which acts as the preservative. Marmalade contains at least 35 grams of fruit per 100 grams of product.
Extra marmalade contains at least 45 g fruit per 100 g product.
Melibiose is a disaccharide consisting of galactose and glucose. Melibiose is found in ash and mallow, but is normally produced by cleaving raffinose. Its relative sweetness is 0.3 compared to sugar (=1).
Metabolism is the total biochemical activity of an organism. It includes the breakdown (catabolism) of organic compounds to yield energy and molecular building blocks, which are then used by the body to maintain its structure and organisation and to manufacture new compounds (anabolism) to make cells and tissues. Energy is also used to provide heat and to engage in physical activity. Life depends on metabolism. See carbohydrate metabolism.
Miracle fruit is the oval, red fruit (2 cm in length) of the west African bush, Richardella dulcifica (Synsepalum dulcificum). The flesh contains aglycoprotein, miraculin, with a molecular weight of about 43,000 daltons.
Miraculin is actually not a sweetener, but has the property of making sour products taste sweet. This means that if miraculin is eaten before eating a sour fruit, such as a lemon, the lemon will taste sweet. The effect lasts for up to two hours, which is a disadvantage in commercial use.
Molasses, also called treacle, is the dark thick syrup remaining when no more sugar can be produced by crystallization. It is a by-product of sugar manufacture.
Beet sugar molasses contains ~50% sucrose, ~20% other organic compounds (e.g.raffinose, invert sugar and betain), ~10% inorganic compounds (mainly calcium salts) and~20% water. Cane sugar molasses has a more widely varying composition.
Molasses is used as an ingredient in various kinds of fodder and as a raw material incertain fermentation processes. Cane sugar molasses is used to make brown sugar, e.g.London Demerara sugar and is fermented to make rum.
Monellin is a natural sweetener which is isolated from the tropical serendipity berry, Dioscoreophyllum cumminsii. Monellin is found in the fruit of the plant and is a protein with a molecular weight of about 11,500 daltons. Its relative sweetness is about 2000 that of sugar.
However, its stability is poor and in carbonated soft drinks the sweetness is lost after only a few hours. Another disadvantage of monellin is that the sweet taste is manifested a few seconds after consumption, and remains, to acertain degree, for about an hour.
Muscovado sugar is an unrefined sugar made from the juice of sugar cane by evaporationand draining off the molasses. It is a poor quality sugar with a darker colour and stronger aroma than Demerara sugar.
Natural sweeteners is the name given to the group of substances with a sweet taste which are found in nature, mainly in the plant kingdom. Natural sugars and sugar alcohols are included in this group, as well as other substances found in plants which are extremely sweet. The latter substances are usually found in tropical plants.
There are a large number of intensely sweet substances found in nature but the best known of these include glycyrrhizin, stevioside, monellin, thaumatin and miraculin.
Bananas are rich in natural sugar and can contain between 6 and 14% sucrose.
Nectar is the raw material from which honey is made. It is a sugary liquid excreted by flowers. The sugar content of nectar varies from 5 to 70%.
Nectar is also used to describe a still, soft drink consisting of fruit purée and varying amounts of water and sugar, for example guava or apricot nectar.
Bees collect nectar to make honey.
Neohesperidin DC, neohesperidin dihydrochalcon, or NHDC (E959), is a sweetener produced by the synthetic modification of certain glycosides extracted from the peel of citrus fruits.
Its sweetness is 300-2000 that of sucrose. NHDC causes a sensation of sweetness a few seconds after stimulating the taste buds. A lingering menthol-liquorice taste makes NHDC unsuitable as a single sweetener in a product. In low concentrations (ppm) however, NHDC can modify the taste profile of other sweeteners. NHDC is approved for use in the EU in the Sweeteners Directive.
Sugar can be made into 'pearls' by crushing loaf sugar. Although found in continental Europe, nib sugar is not common in the US or UK.
Nib sugar is used to decorate buns.
Olestra is a fat substitute. It is a sucrose polyester derived chemically from normal sugar. In normal fat, up to 3 fatty acids are linked to glycerol (a 3 carbon sugar alcohol) by ester bonds.
In Olestra, glycerol is replaced by sucrose to which 6, 7, or 8 fatty acids are similarly bound. This large structure prevents digestion by the enzymes designed to break down fats, which means that Olestra passes through the intestines unchanged.
Olestra is approved for some limited uses in the US, Canada and the UK.
Osmosis is the passage of a solvent through a semi-permeable membrane into a more concentrated solution. Osmosis is the chief means by which nutrients dissolved in fluids pass in and out of plant and animal cells. Osmotic pressure drives the equilibration of concentration in the two solutions on either side of the membrane.
High osmotic pressure can be used to preserve fruit in jams. The high sugar concentration attracts water out of any microorganisms that might be present, preventing the organisms from growing.
Osmotic pressure is a function of the number of molecules present rather than their size. Therefore when one molecule of sucrose is split into two molecules, one of glucose and one of fructose, the osmotic pressure is increased considerably. This is why invert sugar (split sucrose) is a better preservative than sucrose.
Pectin is a polysaccharide which consists of partially methylated uronic acid molecules, bound with a-1,4 bonds. Monosaccharides such as arabinose, xylose and rhamnose determine the specific type of pectin. Pectin is normally found in many fruits and vegetables and is produced commercially from the peel of citrus fruits and apples.
Commercial pectin can be added as an ingredient (E440). The pectin content of citrus peel can be as high as 30%. Highly methylated pectin is dependent on sugar and acid to form a gel, and is used as a gelling agent mainly in jam, marmalade, jelly and confectionery. Slightly methylated pectin forms a gel in the presence of, for example, calcium, and is used in the production of milk-based puddings. Pectin is classified as dietary fibre.
Preserving of food, other ways of increasing its life-time, can be achieved by heating or , cooling, drying, exposure to radioactive radiation, or by the addition of preservatives. In the latter case, sugar, salt or another kind of preservative may be used.
Sugar increases the osmotic pressure (see osmosis ) and reduces the water activity. This means that fruit preserved in sugar syrup, as juice or jam retains its colour and taste for a longer period of time than the corresponding product without sugar. Also, the growth of yeast, mould and other undesirable microorganisms is reduced or prevented. If the sugar level is too low the product may become contaminated and be ruined. Some moulds may even produce poisonous substances if the conditions allow.
By creating the most unfavourable conditions for microorganisms, with regard to pH, water activity, relative moisture level and temperature, it is possible to reduce the amount of preservatives used. Sugar can play an important role here. This is called "hurdle technology". See Leistner, L; Food design by hurdle technology and HACCP. Adalbert Raps Foundation, Kulmbach ,1994.
Raffinose is a trisaccharide, also called melitose, and is composed of galactose, glucose and fructose. It is found in soybeans and sugar beet.
Raffinose causes problems during the manufacture of sucrose as it interferes with both crystallization and sucrose analysis. Raffinose is not taken up in the body, but is broken down by the microorganisms in the large intestine, resulting in flatulence. Its sweetness relative sugar (=1) is 0.2.
Raw sugar is an intermediate product in the manufacture of sucrose. It contains 96-98% sugar and is not generally thought of as a fully prepared foodstuff. Small amounts of molasses are still present in the sugar crystals, which accounts for the mineral content of raw sugar.
Raw sugar may vary in colour, depending on its origin and degree of purity.
Raw sugar for direct consumption is produced from sugar cane and is specially treated in order to satisfy regulations regarding food quality.
The levels are, however, so low that they are of no importance from a dietary point of view. The aroma compounds in the molasses add to the taste and smell of raw sugar. Prior to use, raw sugar is usually refined, i.e. purified.
Sugars with a free aldehyde function. All monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose and galactose) have this property and are thus known as reducing sugars. When disaccharides or polysaccharides are formed, the reducing end of a monosaccharide may or may not be involved in the bond.
If the reducing end is not involved, the product will remain a reducing sugar (e.g. maltose, lactose and starch). If the reducing ends of the sugars are joined together, the product is non-reducing (e.g. sucrose and trehalose).
This can be measured using many tests for the residual reducing power. One such test is Fehling's in which reducing sugars have the ability to reduce complex-bound copper II ions in Fehling's solution to copper I oxide. The quantity of reducing sugars present in glucose syrup is used to determine the dextrose equivalent.
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Refining is the process of purification. Refining is achieved by various separation processes in which undesired substances, impurities, are removed to produce a pure product. The separation processes may include physical methods such as centrifugation, filtration or pressing, as well as distillation, extraction and adsorption.
Refining processes are used in the food industry for the production of sugar and edible oils. Sugar refining is the process by which pure sucrose is produced from sugar cane and sugar beet.
The only definition of a sweet taste is "that which tastes like sugar". Sweetness can notbe measured by any instrument. The only means of measuring sweetness is by comparison with something else using our own sense of taste.
Relative sweetness is used to define how sweet a product is in relation to sugar. Solutions of various concentrations are compared with a reference solution of sugar, usually between 5-20% sugar solution. In the comparison, sugar is given the value 1. The process of tasting is carried out under fixed conditions, as sweetness varies with the temperature, concentration, pH, the presence of other ingredients and the sensitivity of the individual.
As a measurement, relative sweetness is imprecise because it only defines the sweetness in a single, laboratory, set of conditions. Normally sweeteners are consumed in a variety of products under a number of circumstances, not usually in laboratories. In addition, it is well known that many sweeteners potentiate other sweeteners when used together. For these reasons, relative sweetness is not an operationally useful measurement of sweetness.
All naturally occurring sugars have a low relative sweetness compared with high-intensity sweeteners, which are often several hundred times sweeter than normal sugar.
Amounts of various sugars and sweeteners required to give the same sweetness.
Ribitol, or adonitol, is a sugar alcohol of ribose, which is found naturally in the roots of the adonis plant, Adonis vernalis, and as a component of riboflavin. Ribitol can be manufactured by the hydrogenation of ribose. Its sweetness relative to sugar (=1) is 0.5-0.7.
Saccharides constitute a group of substances which consist of several connected building blocks, so-called monosaccharides. Saccharides are part of the larger group called carbohydrates.
Two monosaccharides bound together form a disaccharide, three give a trisaccharide, four a tetrasaccharide, etc. Saccharides with 2-9 monosaccharides are called oligosaccharides. Polysaccharides are those with more than 10 monosaccharide units.
The most common forms of monosaccharides in nature are glucose and fructose. The most common disaccharides are sucrose and lactose. Among the trisaccharides, raffinose is the most common, and among the tetrasaccharides, stachyose. All these saccharides are usually called natural sugars.
Polysaccharides are among the most common substances found in the plant kingdom, and occur in many different forms, the most abundant of which are starch and cellulose. If polysaccharides are cleaved in a suitable way - a process that can be difficult - a number of sugars, of which some occur naturally, can be produced. Among these are the monosaccharides xylose, galactose, arabinose and mannose, as well as the disaccharide maltose.
The relative sweetness varies considerably between the various saccharides. In general, it can be said that the sweetness decreases with the number of bound monosaccharides, especially from three and upwards, but the variation is also large among the monosaccharides and the disaccharides.
Saccharin is a synthetic sweetener and is among the most commonly used substances in the group of high-intensity sweeteners. Saccharin is normally used as the sodium or potassium salt. It has a slight bitter aftertaste, which can be masked by combination with other sweeteners. The sodium salt form of saccharin has a high solubility and its stability is relatively good. Saccharin is not metabolized and thus requires no insulin. In some countries, there are at present some restrictions on the use of saccharin, due to a suspicion of toxic effects.
Regarding the use of saccharin, see the section on Legislation and Regulations Regarding Sugar and Sweeteners.
The solubility properties of a compound describe how that compound dissolves in a solvent; quickly or slowly, to a high or a low concentration, etc. One kilogram of sucrose can be dissolved in 0.5 l water at room temperature, and in 0.2 l water at +100°C. The solubility increases with temperature. See Table - the solubility of sugar.
Different sugars (i.e. sucrose, glucose, etc.) have different solubility in water. When different sugars are dissolved together, the presence of one will alter the solubility of the other.
Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol (E420), previously called glucitol, which is found in many plants and algae.
Sorbitol is especially abundant in the Prunus family, e.g. cherries and plums.The substance is manufactured industrially by the hydrogenation of glucose. Sorbitol is the cheapest and most easily available sugar alcohol, and therefore the most commonly used. Its relative sweetness is 0.5-0.6. Sorbitol is also an intermediate product in the manufacture of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) from glucose.
Sorbitol is used as a sweetener by diabetics and in sugar-free confectionery. It is, however, taken up to a large degree in the body, and thus has about the same energy content as the digestible saccharides. In the declaration of contents, it is assigned the energy value 10 kJ/g, as for the other sugar alcohols. High consumption leads to laxative effects. The bacteria on the teeth can not break down sorbitol, and thus form acidrelatively slowly. The risk of dental caries is therefore regarded as negligible as a consequence of the consumption of sorbitol.
Sorbitol is often used in toothpaste.
Stachyose is a tetrasaccharide which consists of the trisaccharide raffinose and a galactose molecule. It is found in plants, for example those in the Stachys family, and in soya beans. Stachyose is not taken up in the body, but is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, leading to the formation of gas following high consumption of soya beans and other leguminous plants.
Starch is a polysaccharide, which acts as a nutrient store in many plants, especially in potatoes and cereals. Starch consists solely of glucose molecules, bound with a-1,4 and, to a small degree, a-1,6 bonds, which means that the glucose molecules are easily separated by acids or enzymes.The two main components are amylose (~20%) and amylopectin (~80%).
Starch is the most important form of carbohydrates and is almost completely cleaved in the gastro-intestinal tract. Starch provides the raw material for many sweeteners, such as glucose and glucose syrup, which in turn can be further purified to produce isoglucose, fructose and sorbitol.
Starch can be produced from potatoes. Other sources are maize and wheat.
Stevia is the popular name for the sweet steviol glycosides extracted from the dried leaves of the plant Stevia Rebaudiana. Stevia Rebaudiana is a member of the Asteriaceae (sunflower) family, and a naturally occurring plant native to Paraguay. Most common individual steviol glycoside is Rebuadioside A. The stevia leaves has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years and stevia based products have been used extensively to sweeten foods in Japan, China and Chorea since 1970s. Since 2011 stevia, in the form of 10 named steviol glycosides, has been approved for use in food and beverage in the EU, and is today used in more than 120 countries worldwide.
Stevia comes as a white powder; it is typically 200-400 times sweeter than sugar, with some liquorish off notes at high dosage levels. The off notes can be minimized by blending the various glycosides according to the application. The actual sweetness of stevia depends on the dosage level, as the relative sweetness declines with increased dosage. Stevia delivers no effective calories, is quite stabile towards pH and temperature and does not affect the blood glucose level. Stevia is approved in the EU as a food additive with the E-number 960 and must be labelled as such or “steviol glycosides” in the ingredient list of food and beverage products.
Stevioside is a natural sweetener which is isolated from the South American herb, Stevia rebaudiana. Sixty-five grams of stevioside are obtained from one kg of dried leaves. Chemically, stevioside consists of the glycoside steviol and three glucose molecules. Its relative sweetness is about 300. The sweet taste is followed by a liquorice aftertaste.
Sucrose is ordinary sugar. It is a disaccharide which consists of a glucose and a fructose molecule bound by a glycosidic link. Sucrose is found together with the monosaccharides glucose and fructose in most plants. Sucrose is found in especially large amounts in sugar cane and sugar beet. Essentially all sugar is produced from these two sources.
The sweetness of sucrose is used as a standard. The relative sweetness of a sweetener is usually expressed in relation to the sweetness of sucrose, which is assigned the value 1. Sucrose is the most commonly used sweetener, both domestically and industrially. Its chemical designation is a-D-glucopyranosyl-b-D-fructofuranoside.
In the body, sucrose is cleaved to form glucose and fructose before being used to provide energy.
Sucrose, or normal sugar, can be found in crystals of many different sizes.
In daily conversation, the word sugar is used as a synonym for sucrose. Chemically, the word is used to describe all the smaller saccharides, even those which are not sweet. See also natural sugars.
The word sugar can be traced back to Sanskrit, the primeval language of the Indians, in which the word Sarkarâ was used to mean small crystals. Sarkarâ is the origin of the word for sugar in all Indo-European languages (zuccero, Zucker, sucre, sugar, sukker, suiker, etc.).
Sugar alcohols are similar to sugars, but belong chemically to the group of compounds called alcohols. Sugar alcohols, or polyols, occur naturally in certain plants, but are manufactured industrially by the hydrogenation of the corresponding sugar. Important sugar alcohols are sorbitol (made from glucose), xylitol (from xylose), isomalt (from isomaltulose), mannitol (from fructose) and maltitol (from maltose). They vary slightly in energy content, but all are assigned a value of 10 kJ/g in contents declarations in the EU.
Sugar alcohols have widely varying sweetness and tastes. Sugar alcohols are used in sugar-free confectionery, and as sweeteners for diabetics, as they are not, or only slightly, taken up in the body. That which is taken up in the body is metabolized in a way not requiring the same amount of insulin as the metabolism of saccharides. The proportion remaining in the intestines forms water, which can have a laxative effect in large quantities (>25 g/day). With regular consumption, a certain degree of digestive adaptation can also occur.
The sugar beet, Beta vulgaris, is a biennial plant, which belongs to the Goosefoot or Chenopodiaceae family. All cultured plants in this genus(Beta) mangold, sugar beet and beetroot, are thought to be descended from the wildbeet, Beta maritima, which is found around the Mediterranean, and even along part of Sweden's coast.
Beets were originally used directly as food. At the end of the 18th century, man began to extract sucrose from them. Sugar beets with higher sugar contents were cultivated by plant breeding, and the sugar beet became a raw material for industrial sucrose manufacture.
Today, sugar beet contains from 15 to 20% sugar, and is cultivated in temperate regions. The sugar is obtained by extraction. About 30% of the world's sugar comes from sugar beet.
All plants contain sugar, but the sugar beet contains especially high levels. The sugar beet is the only plant from which it is profitable to extract sugar.
Saccharum officinarum is a perennial, tropical grass, which can grow to over 4 metres in height, and which has a strongly reinforced stem (cane). The cane is filled with pith which is rich in sugar, about 12-18% sucrose.
Sugar cane is thought to have originated in New Guinea about ten thousand years ago. It spread to India and south-east Asia several hundred years BC.
Sugar cane is grown mainly in tropical and subtropical regions. The harvest per hectare varies considerably. In Central America, where a large part of the world's sugar cane is grown, the harvest is between 3 and 9 tonnes of sucrose per hectare. Sugar cane provides 70% of the world production of sucrose.
A great deal of sugar cane is cultivated in Cuba and Australia.
The concentration of natural sugars in fruit, berries, root crops and vegetables varies considerably, both between different plants and within the same species, e.g. between different kinds of apples. The concentration is also affected by factors such as the nature of the soil, climate, degree of maturity, storing conditions, etc.
In the tables on the following pages, approximate values are given for fruit and vegetables which are ready for consumption. Total sugar is the sum of the glucose, fructose and sucrose contents. Certain fruits, berries and vegetables contain otherkinds of sugar, and in some cases sugar alcohols. The approximate sugar contents of some foods are shown in the table below.
Sugar cubes or sugar lumps, are produced by vibrating and compressing damp sugar, and allowing it to dry. Different kinds of sugar cubes are produced regarding size and solubility. Brown sugar lumps are produced from brown sugar or raw sugar.
Brown and white sugar lumps, a convenient form of sugar used to sweeten hot drinks.
The EC Sugar Directive (73/437/EEC) was published in 1973 mainly as a consumer protection law. The directive defines the quality of ten sugar products:
These product names are "reserved", which means that they are protected so that only products which fulfill the quality requirements may be called, for example, extra-white sugar.
It is permitted to use these reserved terms, e.g. sugar, in traditional names such as brown sugar and sugar candy, provided they can not be confused with other products. Granulated sugar is another traditional name, where "granulated" only provides the consumer with extra information.
Upon Sweden's entry into the EU, the Sugar Directive was implemented, and is called "Statens livsmedelsverks kungörelse med föreskrifter och allmänna råd om vissa former av socker samt om mandelmassa och marsipanmassa", SLV FS 1993:24. Apart from the almond products, the Swedish Food has also added icing sugar to the list of sugar products.
The best-known substance with a sweet taste is sugar. What we call sugar, sucrose, together with other sugars such as glucose (dextrose) and fructose, are common in the plant kingdom. In the animal kingdom, lactose (milk sugar) and honey are the most common sources of sweeteners. Other substances with a sweet taste also occur naturally in plants. Sweeteners can also be produced through the chemical modification of natural substances, or by chemical synthesis.
About 120 (115) million tonnes of sugar are produced annually throughout the world. Of these, 15 million tonnes are produced within the EU of which 370,000 tonnes are made in Sweden.
Sweetness is the first taste a human experiences, as mother's milk is sweet. Man has always appreciated sweetness and associated it with something positive and pleasant.
Honey, milk and certain sugar-containing fruit and plant juices were, for a long time, all that was available to satisfy man's need for sweet things. But there was never enough for everyone. Attempts were therefore made to obtain sources of sweet things over and above these natural sources. Then man discovered how to refine sugar. This is a long, and in places, dramatic story.
Sugar cane was the first plant to be used for the production of sugar on a large scale. The Indians learnt how to press the juice out of sugar cane around 300 BC. In time, it was discovered that it was possible to concentrate the juice by boiling it, and to make solid sugar by crystallization. This solid was then shaped into oblong "loaves".
The cultivation of sugar cane spread east to China and west to Persia and Egypt. The Arabs then took it with them to North Africa, Spain and the larger islands of the Mediterranean.
Columbus took sugar cane to the West Indies and the Portuguese introduced it into Brazil. Plantations soon covered large areas of the New World and the Philippines, and by the end of the 18th century had reached Australia.
An attractive commodity
To begin with, sugar was a luxury and was used either for enjoyment or as a medicine. However, it rapidly became an important commodity. During the Middle Ages, Venice was Europe's most important port for the importation of colonial goods. Refineries were constructed there for the processing of the imported raw sugar. The final product was then dispatched to Northern Europe, often in the form of "sugar loaves". A sugar loaf was an excellent gift, even between princes.
During the 17th century, many sugar refineries were built in England, France and The Netherlands. With the triumphal entry of cocoa, coffee and tea, sugar became a necessity, and the import of sugar to the European countries increased. The politicians of the day were, however, not at all pleased with the high level of imports as they considered that it deprived the country of money. Perhaps an alternative raw material could be found for the production of sugar?
The sugar beet makes its entrance
A new sugar-bearing plant, the sugar beet, was introduced into Europe thanks to Napoleon and the Continental System. It had previously been known as a sweet, appetising vegetable. There are many kinds of sugar beet, but all are thought to originate from the wild beet which grows around the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the Caspian Seas.
After much experimentation, and intensive, laborious refining, the sugar beet was finally accepted as a source of sugar at the beginning of the 19th century, and became established in almost the whole of Europe during the course of that century. Today, about 1/3 of the world's sugar is produced from sugar beet.
The path of sugar to Sweden
Sugar came to Sweden in the Middle Ages. Because of its high price, it was (long regarded as) a luxury. The first time sugar is mentioned in Sweden is in connection with the burial of Birger Persson, the father of Saint Bridget and the chief judge of the district court. The document is dated April 5, 1328. The funeral guests offered each other icing sugar from small silver boxes. The tradition of having a lock on the sugar caddie stems from the high price of sugar. A kilogram of sugar could cost as much as 70 kilos of butter. The small amounts used were initially imported from Venice, and later from the West Indies.
Sweden's first sugar refinery was built in 1647 in Stockholm, but it was not until the middle of the 1800s that sugar production based on Swedish sugar beet became established. Sugar consumption increased as people started to drink coffee and tea. During the middle of the 18th century, consumption was about 0.4 kilograms per person per year. As the price decreased, due to the increase in supply, consumption increased to about 4 kilograms per person by the middle of the 19th century. Today, the annual sugar consumption in Sweden is about 40 kilograms per person.
From saccharin to sucralose
Many sweeteners have been discovered by accident. In 1879, saccharin was discovered in the US when a chemist, Fahlberg, noticed that the product he had spilt on his hand tasted sweet. Saccharin was marketed as a cheap replacement for sugar and was used extensively during the Great War. As saccharin has a bitter, metallic tang, attempts were made to find a better sweetener. The products found were, however, often inferior to saccharin in taste, or they had toxicological implications. Today, saccharin faces competition from other sweeteners, but is still cheap and much used.
A breakthrough was made in 1937 when cyclamate was discovered. A student discovered that a cigarette, which he had stood on a laboratory bench where he had spilt a synthesis product, tasted sweet. Cyclamate was thoroughly tested before being allowed onto the market. Mixtures of cyclamate and saccharin became enormously successful, especially in the US. However, in 1969, it was suspected that cyclamate could cause cancer. The FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) wanted to ban both cyclamate and saccharin. Cyclamate was banned completely, but its use is now permitted in several countries outside the US. Saccharin is banned in Canada, but may be sold in the US with a warning on the label. Toxicologists could not agree about the effects of saccharin and cyclamate, and therefore, the search for new sweeteners was re-instigated.
The search for a peptide-based gastric medicine led to the discovery of aspartame in the US in 1965, when the chemist Schlatter happened to spill the dipeptide he had synthesized on his finger and tasted it. Aspartame was finally approved in 1981. Today, aspartame is one of the most well-investigated sweetener in history. After saccharin, it is the most commonly used high-intensity sweetener in the world. Acesulfame was also discovered by accident, in 1967, by the chemist Clauss, working in Germany. The structure of acesulfame is similar to that of saccharin. The sweet taste and taste profile of acesulfame are therefore not surprising. Acesulfame was approved in Sweden in 1987.
Two new sweeteners being tested by the FDA are alitame and sucralose. Alitame is approved in Australia and sucralose is approved in Canada and Australia, among other countries. Alitame is the result of a systematic search for sweet dipeptides. Sucralose, on the other hand, was discovered by pure chance, and it is said that a student misunderstood his instructions. He had been instructed to test sucralose, but thought that he was to taste it.
There are several alternatives to normal sugar and other sweet carbohydrates, but only a few have so far been approved for use in food products. The chemical structure of high-intensity sweeteners varies so much that it is difficult to predict which structures will give a sweet taste. A considerable amount of work is being devoted to increasing our knowledge in this area.
Danisco Sugar AB - a brief history
Danisco Sugar AB is the only manufacturer of sugar in Sweden. Sweden's first sugar refinery was opened in Stockholm in 1647, and production was based on sugar cane. In 1854, Justus Tranchell opened a sugar beet plant in Landskrona, in southern Sweden. This became the basis of the present-day company, Danisco Sugar AB. In 1907, the company Svenska Sockerfabriks AB (SSA) was founded, and consisted at that time of 21 raw sugar mills and 10 refineries. SSA changed its name in 1987 to Sockerbolaget AB, and in 1995 the name was again changed, this time to Danisco Sugar AB. 2000 the product brand for consumers changed to Dansukker.
Today, sugar is produced at the granulated sugar mills at Örtofta and Köpingebro and the refinery at Arlöv.
Danisco Sugar AB is part of the Danish food products concern Danisco, and has an annual sugar production of about 370,000 tonnes. Apart from sugar, Danisco also develops, manufactures and markets sweeteners, dietary fibre and fodder products.
From a cavepainting made about 7000 BC, found in Araña in Spain. It shows a woman collecting honey, surrounded by bees. The man stands below, awaiting the result.
Sugar cane. From C. Moon and J. Caldwell's series of watercolours, 1869.
Sugar production in the West Indies in about 1690. The cane was crushed between rollers in the sugar-mill, which was driven by oxen. The juice then ran down a channel to the lower building, where it was made into solid sugar.
A sugar beet. German copperplate made 1890.
The finished sugar loaves are removed from their wooden moulds. After an aquatint engraving of C. Stuhr, 1806.
Sockerbolaget's product range in 1956.
Danisco Sugar's retail products 1999.
Danisco Sugar's retail products 2004.
A sugar loaf is a sucrose product made by casting crystallized sugar in a conical metal mould. Sugar loaves are no longer produced commercially.
Sugar loaves were produced in Sweden at Arlöv until 1942.
Sugars is the term commonly applied to the mono-, di- and small oligosaccharides which occur naturally (see saccharides). Most kinds of sugar are formed in green plants through photosynthesis involving solar energy, water and carbon dioxide.
The sugar is used by the plant to build up a support tissue and cellulose, as an energy store in the form of starch or sugar, and as a source of energy in the production of other substances such as proteins and fat.
Sweeteners is the name given to those materials used in the preparation of foods and drinks that taste sweet. Sweeteners may be natural or synthetic. The number of sweeteners is large, both naturally occurring and synthetically produced, but only a few of the newer ones have so far been approved for use in foodstuffs. The chemical structures of sweeteners are so diverse that it is difficult to predict which structure will have a sweet taste. A great deal of work is being devoted to increasing knowledge in this area.
A good sweetener must have a pure, sweet taste without any undesirable extra tastes. Sweetness should be perceived very quickly and fade similarly promptly. Sweetness with a delayed onset or with an aftertaste is generally disliked, mainly because it is unfamiliar compared to sucrose.
All sweeteners must be completely safe to eat, both the substance itself and all the reaction and breakdown products that might be derived from it. It must also be stable and soluble so that it works in industrial processes, domestic use and storage without changes to its properties. Furthermore, it should be readily available and/or easy to produce, so that price is reasonable and competitive.
Natural sugars are common as sweeteners and are found mostly in plants. Sugar cane and sugar beet are the most important of these plants and virtually all sugar is produced from these sources. Sugar alcohols are found naturally in certain plants, but for industrial use they are produced from natural sugars. Some sugar alcohols are used as sweeteners for diabetics and in sugar-free confectionery.
Many natural high-intensity sweeteners have been found in tropical and other plants. This group of sweeteners is the subject of research but, as yet, they have no significant role in food or drink. Some amino acids and peptides (bound amino acids) also have properties which make them useful as sweeteners. Another important group of sweeteners consists of synthetic high-intensity sweeteners. These are not found in nature, but are chemically synthesized.
Sweeteners can be classified in many ways, for example, energy-containing and non energy-containing (low-calorie) sweeteners. Natural sugars and sugar alcohols contain energy, while virtually all other provide negligible amounts of energy due to the very small quantities that could be consumed.
In contrast to natural sweeteners, synthetic sweeteners are not found naturally and must be chemically synthesized. They consist of more or less complicated chemical compounds but all are low-calorie, high-intensity sweeteners.
There are six synthetic sweeteners permitted in the EU: acesulfame K, aspartame, cyclamate, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone (NHDC), saccharin and thaumatin and possibly three more in the future: alitame, sucralose and a product nicknamed Sweetener 2000 by the press.
Synthetic sweeteners are also referred to as artificial sweeteners.
Some of the artificial sweeteners available on the world market.
Syrup (sugar syrup) is obtained by mixing various by-products that are obtained when white sugar is produced from beet or cane sugar. Syrup is a viscous sugar solution that consists of sugar (sucrose), glucose and fructose. This combination of different sugar types prevents crystallisation, while the very high sugar content (approx. 80%) guarantees a long shelf life.
Different types of syrup are made by mixing the various by-products in various ways, resulting in variations in regard to colour and flavour. The colour and flavour are primarily derived from small amounts of mineral salts and other substances that are naturally present in the raw materials, but salt may need to be added to obtain the right flavour profile. Each syrup type is tailored to a specific area of use. Syrup is especially useful as a baking ingredient, but is also used for making confectionery, ice cream and desserts.
Thaumatinis a natural sweetener (E957) which is found in the fruit of the West African plant, sweet prayer or katemfe (Thaumatococcus danielli). Thaumatin is a mixture of three proteins; has a molecular weight of about 21,000, and a relative sweetness between 2000 and 3000, depending on concentration. Thaumatin gives rise to a long-lasting sweet taste with a liquorice-like aftertaste. Thaumatin is also called Talin or katemfe, and is used as a taste enhancer.
|This is a commercial name given to sweet foodstuffs, mainly confectionery, which can be eaten without the risk of caries. A method was developed in Switzerland (pH-telemetry) to determine whether products were tooth-friendly. To be accepted a product must not lead to a pH less than 5.7 in plaque within 30 minutes of consumption. To use the special symbol denoting 'tooth-friendliness', a manufacturer must pay a fee and have each sugar-free product tested separately. Not every manufacturer thinks the extra sales will be worth the cost so the symbol is not universal; in fact it is mainly found in Switzerland and Germany.|
Trehalose is a disaccharide consisting of two glucose molecules. Trehalose is found naturally in, for example, toadstools like the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria). Its relative sweetness is 0.45.
The terms "unsweetened" or "no sugar added" may be used if no sugar (including sucrose, glucose, fructose other sugar) has been added to the product. Naturally occurring sugar may, however, be present in the product.
Viscosity is a measure of the flow properties of a liquid. The higher the viscosity of a liquid, the more slowly the flow.
Syrup is an example of a viscous solution. At room temperature, syrup is viscous, but the viscosity decreases as the temperature increases.
Water activity, aw, is a measure of the amount of free or available water in a food product. The water activity of foods is measured on a scale of 0 (dry) to 1.0 (moist). It is defined as the ratio between the water vapour pressure of the product and the vapour pressure of pure water at the same temperature. Most bacteria can not survive under aw = 0.9, most yeast fungi can not grow under aw = 0.85 and most mould fungi do not survive at aw under 0.7. Sugar reduces the water activity, which has a preservative effect. The water activity of a 65% sugar solution is 0.87.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, also called birch sugar. It is produced by the hydrolysis of xylan in the hemicellulose of the birch. The xylose produced is then hydrogenated to form xylitol. Xylitol can also be produced from the xylans in straw. Plums, especially yellow ones, contain xylitol. Xylitol is used mainly in sugar-free confectionery, e.g. chewing-gum. In small amounts, xylitol is metabolized reasonably well in the body, while high consumption (>50 g/day) can cause laxative effects. Xylitol is not broken down into acid by the bacteria on the teeth, and is regarded as having an impeding effect on oral streptococcus bacteria (Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus).
Xylitol is equivalent in sweetness tosucrose. It is the only polyol with sweetness so closely comparable to sucrose. In addition, xylitol has a slightly cooling effect when it dissolves in the mouth (due to its negative heat of solution), which makes it particularly useful in applications using mint flavours.
Xylitol is used in sugar-free chewing-gum, often in combination with sorbitol.